Kindergartener’s More Ethnically and Culturally Diverse

USAToday reported (8/21/) that the kindergarten class of 2010-11 is less white, less black, more Asian and much more Hispanic than in 2000. For example, about one out of four 5-year-olds will be Hispanic. More Hispanic children are likely in the next generation because the number of Hispanic girls entering childbearing years is up more than 30% this decade.

The profile of the 4 million children starting kindergarten reveals the startling changes the USA has undergone the past decade and offers a glimpse
of its future. In this year’s class, for example, about one out of four 5-year-olds will be Hispanic.

A USA TODAY analysis of the most recent government surveys shows:

•About 25% of 5-year-olds are Hispanic, a big jump from 19% in 2000. Hispanics of that age outnumber blacks almost 2 to 1.

•The percentage of white 5-year-olds fell from 59% in 2000 to about 53% today and the share of blacks from 15% to 13%.

•Kindergarten enrollment is up, from 3.8 million in 2000 to about 4 million.

This is not just a big-city phenomenon. The percentage of minority children is growing faster in the suburbs and in rural areas.

In Lake County, Ind., a Chicago suburb, the under-20 population went from 51.8% white in 2000 to 47.1% in 2008. In rural Nebraska’s Colfax and Dakota counties, the share of Hispanic youths is rising while young whites are down from 60% to about 45% in the same period.

•Schools face linguistic challenges. The share of 5-year-olds who speak English at home slipped from 81% in 2000 to about 78%. The share of Spanish
speakers grew from 14% to 16%.

The article fails to point out another challenge facing educators.  Hispanics represent the largest group of school dropouts.  So in addition to having to address the language issue, schools need to address the steps needed to stop these youngsters from dropping out.